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Boeing 787 Dreamliner
In the wake of the FAA's decision to ground Boeing's snazzy 787 Dreamliner planes after a series of scary incidents, Boeing's decision to outsource the plane's parts to factories around the world is being questioned. It would be hard to overstate the scope of the outsourcing, which involved 50 suppliers and 135 sites, which had already caused the 787 to be released years behind schedule, and which may have contributed to problems now:
Fifty per cent of the Dreamliner is made from composite materials, including much of the fuselage and wings, which come from manufacturers in Japan, Italy, South Korea, the United States and elsewhere.

Some 70 per cent of the plane is outsourced, said Richard Tortoriello, an analyst at Standard and Poor’s.

“That creates a potential for more problems to occur than if production is centralized, because quality control can be better managed” in a centralized process, he said.

Boeing is insistent that its outsourcing strategy isn't responsible for the problems with the planes, and it has the lobbying apparatus in place to make that case to Congress. But after two frightening incidents in eight days, it may be difficult for Boeing to put a lid on the questions being raised. Simultaneously, Boeing is in a contentious contract fight with its unionized engineers and technical workers, who are taking the Dreamliner's problems as another sign of the company's disrespect for their work:
“Boeing corporate created the 787 problems by ignoring the warnings of the Boeing technical community,” said Joel Funfar, Technical Negotiation Team member. “Now, they propose to double down on their failed outsourcing strategy by outsourcing the engineering work required to solve the problems caused by previous rounds of outsourcing.”
This all has the potential to focus airline customers' attention on the degree of outsourcing that Boeing put into the Dreamliner. And while most people are by now accustomed to—if not necessarily happy about—wearing clothes made wherever in the world workers are paid the least, going a couple miles into the air in a plane sourced from too many places to name may give some people pause.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Jan 18, 2013 at 07:38 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Daily Kos.

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